Fulford's Thornton misses out on Westwood Trophy after late penalty drama

Fulford's Charlie Thornton.
Fulford's Charlie Thornton.
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FULFORD'S Charlie Thornton might have added the Lee Westwood Trophy to his list of achievements had he trod a bit more carefully at Rotherham.

The Berkhamsted Trophy winner was one shot ahead with two holes to play in the 72-hole championship when he accidentally stepped on his ball while searching for it in the rough just yards behind the 17th green.

After a lengthy discussion with officials, last year's England Boys' order of merit champion was given a one-stroke penalty.

After replacing his ball, frustration got the better of him and he chipped well beyond the pin before three-putting for a triple bogey.

The title ultimately went to Darlington’s Andrew Wilson, whose four-under-par 276 aggregate left Thornton as runner-up on level-par 280.

Thorton’s misfortune on the penultimate hole followed a good drive that left him with just 115 yards to the pin.

“I was tricked by the swirling wind, hit it a little long and it finished in the rough just behind the green,” he said.

“I stood on my ball while looking for it and after a long discussion with the referee I was given a one-shot penalty and had to replace the ball.

“It was very frustrating and it cost me. There are some very annoying rules in golf, but, as they say, that’s golf.”

Thornton, who had a superb second round of four-under 66, found himself in the lead on the final day after Wilson, playing in the last group behind him, dropped four shots in three consecutive holes on the back nine.

But his birdie on the 17th, where minutes earlier Thornton had racked up his triple, secured his victory.

Wilson had scored a course-record equalling 62 in the first round before adding rounds of 71 70 73.

The Darlington plus-four handicapper said: “I’m delighted with the way I’ve played. I’ve been seeing coach Graham Walker recently and that has helped a lot.

“It was pleasing to equal the course record, although in a way I’m disappointed to have been caught out by the wind on the 17th and ending up with a bogey from 130 yards out.

“After that opening round I played pretty solidly and did what I had to do although the bad run on the back nine of the final round nearly saw all the effort wasted.

“It brought so many players back into it, but I had a solid finish to the round so I’m very pleased.”

Yorkshire champion Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall), Sam Bairstow (Hallowes) and defending champion Nick Poppleton (Wath) finished in the prizes, all with a total of 284, while Rotherham 15 year-old Ben Schmidt finished in 11th place on 286.